Well, after an experiment that lasted a year, Playboy has decided to reverse the ban on nudity in the magazine which took place since the March 2016 issue. Now all of this is on the back of Playboy claiming that advertising and sales were up with the non nude edition. So why change now? It looks like an embarrassing climb down.
No more cover-up? March 2016
What has happened since last year is a change in the management of the magazine, however. Back in October Hugh Hefner stepped down as Chief Creative Officer of the magazine and has now been replaced by his son Cooper. When the non-nude issue was first launched in March 2016 Cooper said that he thought ditching nudes was a mistake but at that time he had no formal role in the magazine.
That has now changed but several of the magazine's directors left when he took over, worried about the deals they were broking for the "no nudes" magazine. It looks like Cooperr has got his way, although he admitted that "the way in which the magazine had portrayed nudity was dated." So I expect that will mean no return to girls in black stockings, wearing high heels in bed. Whether we will just see the same skinny, droopy looking college student types but now displaying their nipples (Playboy didn't, in fact, go nudity free at all, it just stopped showing nipples and the pubic area) remains to be seen..
Australian model Gabby Brooks, January/February 2017
In fact the way that the magazine had to hide the supposedly 'naughty' areas was rather tragic and recalled the coy covers of fifties men's magazines. It is also odd that they felt that they could include pictures of naked women (there were still a lot of bare bottoms) and still think that they could persuade people that the magazine had a different, more 'acceptable' image.
They were still provocatively posed women, including on the cover, whether you could see their nipples or not. Certainly, in Britain the covers were still wrapped in an opaque black sealed bag and put on the top shelf in newsagents, in exactly the same way as the "nude' issues. Its legacy is such that to think they could make it a more acceptable brand by taking out the naughty bits was disingenuous to say the least.
I haven't bought Playboy since June last year but I went out and bought the January/February issue, solely because, in a move that appeals to my retro-loving self, they had brought back the old rabbit and picture gallery approach used for the Playmate review issues from the old days. In fact this style of cover last appeared in January 1977, nearly fifteen years before Cooper Hefner was born.. Was this the sign of a re-think, I wondered? Was Playboy acknowledging its heritage again?
Joy Corrigan, Miss February 2017
Unfortunately, inside there was still a lot of reportage, direct flash style photography, in the artless style of Terry Richardson. I hope that this approach, with returning nipples, doesn't continue. There is a style of modern erotic photography, seen in the likes of Volo, for example, which demonstrates some artistic content, creativity and craft. I am not hopeful, however.
Roxanna June, January/February 2017
Interestingly, in the current issue, unlike the first few non nude ones, there are some glimpses of nipple. Playmate of the Month for October 2014 (although they no longer use the words 'Playmate of the Month' - too politically incorrect, no doubt) Roxanne June returns and flashes one teat in profile, begging the question: is it nipple free or not?
I will, of course, now be buying the next issue (the tagline 'Entertainment for Men' has gone) to see what they have done with the magazine but it is slightly worrying that the next issue is dubbed March/April. There haven't been twelve issues a year since 2008 but the two joint issues have always been January/February and July/August. Is this March/April issue just a transition issue or are they reducing the number of issues a year again? All will be revealed shortly!